Striped chafer adult

Scientific name: Odontria striata (White)
  • Key characteristics
  • Biology
  • Impacts
  • Control
  • Further information

  • Widespread native insect, most common in southern New Zealand, occasionally reaching pest levels
  • Feeds on a wide range of plants, larvae on roots and adults on foliage
  • Larvae are found in soil all year round
  • Adults are attracted to lights at night and can also be found in soil
  • Larvae appear very similar to common grass grub, but later stages are larger, and the head is usually darker
  • Commonly found in pasture
  • Often causes damage in home gardens.

  • Striped Chafer is found throughout New Zealand but most commonly in Canterbury, Otago and Southland
  • The approx. 14 mm long, dark brown, striped, velvety beetles of striped chafer are most often seen flying at dusk in spring and autumn although they can be found throughout the year
  • Spherical 1 to 1.5 mm dia. eggs are laid in the soil in batches of about 10-20 mainly from October until early February
  • The larvae pass through three stages and all three stages are present year round
  • Time spent as a larvae varies from 8-14 months
  • Pupation occurs in late summer early autumn
  • The eggs and larvae are generally found near the soil surface and large larvae may be surface active at least for short periods
  • The presence of large numbers of larvae is often indicated by large amounts of fine frass (very fine soil and organic particles) on the soil surface
  • Moist soils and lush vegetation are preferred by striped chafer and they cannot tolerate extremes of temperature or low soil moisture.

  • Striped chafer larvae feed on the roots of a wide range of plants including most pasture species
  • They occasionally cause damage to pasture and this tends to be on mid altitude country and predominantly in Otago and Southland
  • Low numbers of larvae occur in most southern pastures
  • When damaging levels of larvae are present pasture plants are easily pulled from the soil as a consequence of roots being destroyed. This is similar to common grass grub but striped chafer larvae aggregate less than grass grub so damage usually, but not exclusively, appears more widespread and less concentrated in patches
  • The larvae frequently cause damage to nursery and garden plants. Vegetable seedlings, root crops e.g. carrots and strawberries are frequently attacked.
  • The beetles also feed on a wide range of plants including many pasture species, fruit trees and Eucalyptus species
  • The importance of adult feeding in pastures is unknown
  • When feeding on trees damage to young leaves is most likely to affect tree growth.

  • There are no insecticides registered specifically for use against striped chafer but those used against the common grass grub are likely to also work against striped chafer larvae. However, Bioshield Grass GrubTM , a formulation of the bacterium Serratia entomophilla, is specific to common grass grub and will not control striped chafer.

Barratt BIP, Campbell RA. 1982. Biology of the striped chafer, Odontria striata (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) l. The adult, flight and ground surface activity, female reproductive maturation, and food plant selection.  New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1982, Vol. 9: 249-266.

Barratt BIP, 1982. Biology of the striped chafer, Odontria striata (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) ll.Larval development.  New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1982, Vol. 9: 267-278.